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The Undefeated/Broken Arrow/The Big Trail/In Old Arizona [4 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

The Big Trail
The first "epic" western of the talkie era, The Big Trail is motivated by a hero's search for the murderer of his father. Twenty-three-year-old John Wayne, hitherto limited to bit parts, was thrust into the difficult leading role, a young mountaineer put in charge of a huge California-bound wagon train. Over the next several months, Wayne and his fellow pioneers face every imaginable hazard and disaster, from blistering desert heat to blinding snowstorms, negotiating steep cliffs, treacherous rivers, uncharted forests and other such natural obstacles. Meanwhile, Wayne's tentative romance with heroine Ruth Cameron (Marguerite Churchill) is continually thwarted by a charming but duplicitous gambler (Ian Keith), and all-around villain Red Flack (Tyrone Power Sr.) and his henchman Lopez (Charlie Stevens) ceaselessly plot to double-cross the other wagon-trainers for their own financial gain. The Big Trail was a box-office disappointment, a fact which some have attributed its expensive production methods. Each scene was lensed twice, once in 35-millimeter and then in the 65-mm "Fox Grandeur" wide-screen process. And then, each dialogue scene was filmed in French and German, with totally different casts. Even if Big Trail has been a big hit, it would have lost money thanks to the time-consuming shooting and reshooting of virtually every scene. Whatever the case, it was John Wayne who suffered most from the film's failure; instantly demoted to "B"-westerns, it took him nearly a decade to rebuild his stardom. Long believed lost, The Big Trail was made available for exhibition again in the early 1970s -- and in the 1990s the original widescreen version was at last restored for public view. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Broken Arrow
Indian scout Tom Jeffords (James Stewart) is sent out to stem the war between the Whites and Apaches in the late 1870s. He learns (through an uncomfortably close encounter) that the Indians kill only to protect themselves, or out of retaliation for white atrocities. Befriending the sagacious Apache leader Cochise (Jeff Chandler), Jeffords ensures safe passage for white mail-carriers through Indian territory. As he becomes closer to his Native American "brothers", Jeffords falls in love with and weds a pretty Apache girl (Debra Paget). This being a 1950 film (miscegenation was frowned upon by the Production Code), you can guess what happens to her. Jeffords wants to avenge his bride's death at the hands of white renegades, but it is the so-called "savage" Cochise who advises him not to. Having learned much from each other, Jeffords and Cochise symbolize the white/Indian detente with the traditional broken arrow. This superb, non-condescending film has been criticized in some circles because of the alleged depiction of Cochise as an Indian "Uncle Tom", and because actor Jeff Chandler was not a genuine Native American. Nonetheless, Broken Arrow stands the test of time far more successfully than the later, politically correct Dances with Wolves. In 1956, Broken Arrow was adapted into a TV series starring John Lupton as Jeffords and Michael Ansara as Cochise. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

In Old Arizona
Warner Baxter, sporting a black mustache and a musical-comedy Mexican accent, stars as the Cisco Kid, the "Robin Hood of the Old West" created by O. Henry. Edmund Lowe co-stars as Cisco's "friendly enemy" Sgt. Mickey Dunne, the role that was originally to have gone to Raoul Walsh. Both men are madly in love with dusky beauty Tonia Maria (Dorothy Burgess), and in fact Cisco is so "far gone" that he composes a song in the girl's honor (actually, "My Tonia", first heard during the opening credits, was written by Fox studio tunesmiths Lew Brown, B.G. DeSylva and Ray Henderson). Alas, Tonia ends up betraying Cisco to Sgt. Burke. But the crafty, cold-blooded Cisco arranges for Tonia to be killed in the trap set for him (this plot resolution is faithful to O. Henry's original conception of the Cisco Kid, who wasn't really meant to be a "good guy"). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Undefeated
This routine western finds Union Colonel John Henry Thomas (John Wayne) and company attacking Confederate soldiers lead by Colonel James Langdon (Rock Hudson). After a crushing defeat, Langdon torches his plantation rather than have it fall into enemy hands. A group of Southerners accept the invitation of Emperor Maximilian to join them, and Langdon heads off with a wagon train of settlers to a new land. Thomas with his adopted Indian son Blue Boy (Roman Gabriel) bring a herd of 3,000 horses across the Rio Grand for sale. The two factions meet at a Fourth of July party and relive the war through a drunken brawl. When Mexican General Rojas (Tony Aguilar) holds the Southerners hostage, Thomas orders the herd to stampede into the General's camp as ransom payment for their former enemies. Merlin Olsen plays the blacksmith Little George. Both Gabriel and Olsen were pro-football all-stars for the Los Angeles Rams. Olsen continued his acting and sports announcing after his gridiron days were over. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • John Wayne
    John Wayne - Breck Coleman
  • Marguerite Churchill
    Marguerite Churchill - Ruth Cameron
  • El Brendel
    El Brendel - Gussie
  • Tully Marshall
    Tully Marshall - Zeke
  • Image coming soon
    Tyrone Power, Sr. - Red Flack
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.